by Ludovic Hodrè
Everybody knows Captcha and reCaptcha, the tools invented by Luis von Ahn that allow websites to distinguish a user from an Internet bot and users to translate a wide digital library of scanned materials . The famous Luis von Ahn is now the CEO of Duolingo, a free translation tool on the Internet with an incredibly innovative process. Duolingo not only allows users to learn a new language, but has the second objective of translating the Web in its entirety!
Since the Beta version launched in November 2011, Duolingo has accumulated nearly 300,000 users. The site officially launched on June 19th, 2012 and the iPhone app in November 2012. Duolingo is a platform of language learning and currently features English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. It follows the example of Wikipedia and reCaptcha by working on a participative principle: crowdsourcing. A business model based on a simple exchange, free language lessons in return for Web translation.
To get the cognitive juices flowing, Duolingo gives users various exercises to complete. For example, finding different meanings of words, writing sentences, etc. It takes into account various indicators of difficulty, such as the length and complexity of a sentence and the linguistic specificities related to the each language. The enjoyable part is the assignment, where users start by translating individual words and eventually progress to full texts. Duolingo’s intelligent system confirms the correct translation, which estimates the correctness by the number of corresponding votes received from users themselves.
The gamification of Duolingo is what has made it a success. It is divided into three concepts: immediate feedback, progress and goals.
Ludovic Hodrè works for Fueled, an award winning IPhone application design agency in New York City.